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Calibrating Extinction-Free Star Formation Rate Diagnostics with 33 GHz Free-Free Emission in NGC 6946

Murphy, E. J. and Condon, J. J. and Schinnerer, E. and Kennicutt, R. C., Jr. and Calzetti, D. and Armus, L. and Helou, G. and Turner, J. L. and Aniano, G. and Beirão, P. and Bolatto, A. D. and Brandl, B. R. and Croxall, K. V. and Dale, D. A. and Donovan Meyer, J. L. and Draine, B. T. and Engelbracht, C. and Hunt, L. K. and Hao, C.-N. and Koda, J. and Roussel, H. and Skibba, R. and Smith, J.-D. T. (2011) Calibrating Extinction-Free Star Formation Rate Diagnostics with 33 GHz Free-Free Emission in NGC 6946. Astrophysical Journal, 737 (2). Art. No. 67. ISSN 0004-637X.

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Using free-free emission measured in the Ka band (26-40 GHz) for 10 star-forming regions in the nearby galaxy NGC 6946, including its starbursting nucleus, we compare a number of star formation rate (SFR) diagnostics that are typically considered to be unaffected by interstellar extinction. These diagnostics include non-thermal radio (i.e., 1.4 GHz), total infrared (IR; 8-1000 μm), and warm dust (i.e., 24 μm) emission, along with hybrid indicators that attempt to account for obscured and unobscured emission from star-forming regions including Hα + 24 μm and UV + IR measurements. The assumption is made that the 33 GHz free-free emission provides the most accurate measure of the current SFR. Among the extranuclear star-forming regions, the 24 μm, Hα + 24 μm, and UV + IR SFR calibrations are in good agreement with the 33 GHz free-free SFRs. However, each of the SFR calibrations relying on some form of dust emission overestimates the nuclear SFR by a factor of ~2 relative to the 33 GHz free-free SFR. This is more likely the result of excess dust heating through an accumulation of non-ionizing stars associated with an extended episode of star formation in the nucleus rather than increased competition for ionizing photons by dust. SFR calibrations using the non-thermal radio continuum yield values which only agree with the 33 GHz free-free SFRs for the nucleus and underestimate the SFRs from the extranuclear star-forming regions by an average factor of ~2 and ~4-5 before and after subtracting local background emission, respectively. This result likely arises from the cosmic-ray (CR) electrons decaying within the starburst region with negligible escape, whereas the transient nature of star formation in the young extranuclear star-forming complexes allows for CR electrons to diffuse significantly further than dust-heating photons, resulting in an underestimate of the true SFR. Finally, we find that the SFRs estimated using the total 33 GHz flux density appear to agree well with those estimated using free-free emission due to the large thermal fractions present at these frequencies even when local diffuse backgrounds are not removed. Thus, rest-frame 33 GHz observations may act as a reliable method to measure the SFRs of galaxies at increasingly high redshift without the need of ancillary radio data to account for the non-thermal emission.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Murphy, E. J.0000-0001-7089-7325
Condon, J. J.0000-0003-4724-1939
Schinnerer, E.0000-0002-3933-7677
Kennicutt, R. C., Jr.0000-0001-5448-1821
Calzetti, D.0000-0002-5189-8004
Armus, L.0000-0003-3498-2973
Helou, G.0000-0003-3367-3415
Turner, J. L.0000-0003-4625-2951
Aniano, G.0000-0001-9015-2654
Bolatto, A. D.0000-0002-5480-5686
Croxall, K. V.0000-0002-5258-7224
Dale, D. A.0000-0002-5782-9093
Donovan Meyer, J. L.0000-0002-3106-7676
Draine, B. T.0000-0002-0846-936X
Hunt, L. K.0000-0001-9162-2371
Koda, J.0000-0002-8762-7863
Smith, J.-D. T.0000-0003-1545-5078
Additional Information:© 2011 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2011 February 9; accepted 2011 May 24; published 2011 August 4. We thank the referee, T. Takeuchi, for useful suggestions that helped to improve the content and presentation of this paper. E.J.M. thanks the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, where the final version of this paper was written. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. We are grateful to the SINGS team for producing high-quality data sets used in this study. This work is based in part on observations made with the SST, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under a contract with NASA. Herschel is an ESA space observatory with science instruments provided by European-led Principal Investigator consortia and with important participation from NASA.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:cosmic rays; galaxies: individual (NGC 6946); H_(II) regions; infrared: general; radio continuum: general; stars: formation
Issue or Number:2
Classification Code:PACS: 98.58.Hf; 98.70.Dk; 98.54.Cm; 96.50.S-; 98.62.Ai; 98.70.Lt
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20110914-114524691
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Calibrating Extinction-free Star Formation Rate Diagnostics with 33 GHz Free-free Emission in NGC 6946 E. J. Murphy et al. 2011 ApJ 737 67
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:25347
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:16 Sep 2011 16:29
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

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